Home News USAID Initiative in Auki Empowers Local Communities for Sustainable Resource Management

USAID Initiative in Auki Empowers Local Communities for Sustainable Resource Management

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Auki, the capital of Malaita province, stands as the cornerstone of administrative, educational, and economic activities in the province of more than 160,000 people. With a population of more than 7,000, Auki has been a vital hub since its establishment in 1909 by the British Administration.

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Solomon Water provides water to a majority of the households in Auki, which spread across 109 hectares. The primary water source, situated on customary land, possesses the capacity to supply ample water for the township; however, land disputes, gardening activities, and deforestation have threatened the water supply. Since 2021, however, customary landowners around Auki have united to protect their water source through enhanced land management practices based on traditional land ownership systems and using international expertise.

Under the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Strengthening Competitiveness, Agriculture, Livelihoods and Environment – Natural Resource Management (SCALE-NRM) program, five tribal groups spanning the Auki water catchment area are collaborating to ensure the sustainable protection of their resources in order to protect the water source that supplies water to the Auki residents. This involves actively participating in reforestation activities, developing alternative livelihood initiatives, and adopting sound land management practices.

In addition, the USAID SCALE-NRM program facilitated the establishment of an integrated forest nursery facility owned by landowning groups, which provides crucial support to both reforestation and livelihood efforts. In a significant development, in November 2023, landowners operating through the Enas Coamu Cascade Association successfully sold the first batch of nursery plants to support the national government’s green games initiative during the Pacific Games in Honiara. Over 5000 nursery plants were transported from Auki to Honiara, where Pacific athletes participated in a tree planting activity at the Tenaru school and the Solomon Islands National University campus grounds. The establishment of the nursery plant facility has instilled optimism among community members for future opportunities.

While the primary focus was on replanting to safeguard Auki’s water source, the initiative also provided a supplementary source of income for the local communities.

Speaking on the two years of joint efforts, Field Officer Caspar Hutaiala said the tribal groups are proud to contribute to the sustainable use of their resources and are quite pleased with their collaboration to safeguard water supply to the Auki township. “Because of the water source supplying water to Auki we have agreed to use and manage our land wisely with knowledge gained from USAID SCALE-NRM program in our region.”

USAID initiated the Strengthening Competitiveness, Agriculture, Livelihoods, and Environment program in July 2019 after Prime Minister Sogavare requested support from then-Vice President Pence. The Solomon Islands Government specifically identified Malaita Province as a target for assistance due to the economic needs there.

USAID efforts will continue with the Kwaibala catchment area around Auki, two other water catchment areas on Malaita, and many other communities seeking improved land management areas for both conservation and improved livelihoods across Malaita through 2025.

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